Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache, which means the headache was not caused by trauma, disease, or tumor. According to the World Health Organization, one in twenty people in the developed world suffer from a daily tension headache; 80 percent of women and 67 percent of men will experience this type of headache.
The exact cause is unknown; however, physical and emotional stress are known to be contributors to prolonged tension headaches. For example, the visual and physical strain placed on the body while working at the computer for long periods of time provides a perfect incubator for tension headaches to develop.
How do I know it’s a tension headache?
Tension headaches usually come with these tell-tale signs:
- Band-like pain or pressure that begins in the back of the head and upper neck
- Most intense pressure felt at the temples or over the eyebrows
- Varying, but not debilitating pain
- Pain that affects both sides of the head
- Pain is not associated with nausea, vomiting, light sensitivity, or an aura.
- Sporadic pain, even if the pain happens daily
- Normal functionality through the pain
Tension headaches are treated with three strategies “pain relief, lifestyle change, and alternative options.
Over-the-counter pain relief:*
- Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Naproxen (Aleve)
- Change work and home environment to better physically accommodate tasks, such as moving your computer screen height to avoid looking up or down to see the screen
- Eat healthy meals and maintain a healthy weight.
- Exercise to reduce tension
- Stress management counseling
*Check first with your healthcare provider to be certain that these medications are safe for you to use.